Weekend upcycling projects

Why buy new when you can simply update? Sacha Olivier of Once Upon a Time has loads of ideas for transforming old pieces from shabby to chic. Best of all, you can do them over a weekend


Cupboard makeover

Cupboard before


Sacha completely transformed this cupboard by firstly removing all the doors and handles. “The doors really dated this unit, so removing them has given it a much more modern feel,” she says.

As it’s solid oak, she sanded down the layers of varnish with a Mouse (electric sander) – something she believes is the “best invention ever”. Woodoc Antique Oak Gel Stain was then applied with a sponge on the cupboard top and feet to give the wood a darker colour. She then white-washed the main body using a mixture of one part PVA (Plascon’s Pale Blossom) and six parts water.

The last step was to add some new stinkwood handles which tie in with the colour of the feet and top and give the unit a much more contemporary look.


Furniture makeover

Furniture before


To give this ordinary piece of furniture some much needed oomph, Sacha removed the backboard and all the internal shelves. She then removed the handles and cleaned them with thinners, before completely sanding down the unit with a Mouse and filling all the holes with wood filler.

In order to spray-paint the unit, Sacha masked off the glass doors on both sides. “It’s best to first create a mask outline with masking tape and then mask over that with more tape and paper,” she suggests. “We spray all our furniture as it gives a much more even finish,” she adds. Sacha sprayed the piece with a quick-drying primer and then used Duram Polyurethane Acrylic Enamel in Black Medium Sheen.

To give the backboard and internal sides a luxe padded look, Sacha covered them with a thin layer of upholstery foam from Pretoria Foam Centre.

Using a staple gun, she stapled black and white toile fabric to the foam and then nailed it to the back and sides of the cupboard. Sacha bought the fabric in Paris, but local fabric houses have similar designs. To finish it off, she then replaced the original internal shelves with 3mm-thick glass shelves (Builders Warehouse will cut any thickness or size needed).